Thursday, June 27, 2013

Internet Crap

This is the first time I've been online since quarter to two this afternoon.  Not sure how long it'll be up this time.  Suffice it to say, I may or may not be on much while they get this fixed.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Having sketchy internet blows.

ETA:  Last night I badgered the ISP phone support person into sending a tech out.  He found the problem and fixed it in ten minutes.  It wasn't 'bandwidth saturation' like the three people at the company told me.  It was a crappy filter.  He got rid of it and the internet is 'high speed' like we were promised.  !@#%$  Could've been fixed weeks ago when I first called the problem in - if they hadn't assumed we had 'bandwidth saturation'.  Mother Frickers.  :headdesk:

Monday, June 24, 2013


One of our does showed up to the feeder tonight with twins!  Yay!

That is all.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Unexpected Intervention

Hi.  My name is Beth and I'm an internet addict. 

I first started by using the gateway drug Bitnet back in 1989.  Heh, I was a kid, I was in college... what can I say?  In my generation, most kids started their addiction in college anyway.  Things like Bitnet weren't readily available anywhere else. 

Bitnet was slow.  It was ungainly.  But man, what a rush!  I could sit in the computer lab and send messages to people all the way across the country.  I could hang out with my friends and we could talk to other friends who weren't even in the room! 

After I left college, though, times got rough.  I couldn't afford to feed my habit.  I didn't have the scratch to buy a computer, and forget about internet access.  (Hell, when I first left college, the 'internet' was still so new not many people could get their hands on it.)  I thought I was over it.  But like so many other addictions, it was just lying in wait...

Flash forward several years.  Circuit City had a sale.  I got my first home computer.  And then I discovered the new gateway drug to lead me to where I am now:

America Online.

Those dirty bastards hooked me and hooked me good.  I was chatting my days away - forgetting chores, forgetting to eat, ignoring my family.  I eventually left AOL and ventured into new and wonderful aspects of my addiction all on my own.  Sure, sometimes someone would send me a new and shiny link - but I didn't have to click it.  I just couldn't help myself. 

To show you how far this has gone, I had internet hooked up in my new house before I had a refrigerator delivered.

This past week, though, it's been hell around here.  The 'high speed' internet we were promised has too many other addicts sucking at it.  There's not enough to go around.  I'm totally jones'n, man.  And those ISP bastards put up a sign on the corner - right where the juice comes from to feed my addiction - offering the others in my neighborhood a taste of this ambrosia if they just sign up now.  :shudder: More people on my DSL??  There are too many here already.  It keeps knocking me off.  It runs so slow that I feel like I'm back on dial-up waiting for AOL to WELCOME me.  I can't work.  I can't play.  All I can do is sit here, staring at my modem and waiting for the little light to turn green again so I can get my fix.

I suppose this is just the intervention I need.  I did get 2200 words out last night.  But I couldn't even check my email between pages like I'm used to.  :sniffle:

I'm getting just enough of the drug to keep me from getting the DTs, but it ain't pretty around here.  I... I... I even CLEANED the bathroom this morning! 

You know life's bad when you're forced to clean the bathrooms.

How about you?  What's your story?  How long have you been using the internet?  Could you quit if you wanted to? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lessons From a Wasted Hour

Saturday I wasted an hour reading.

Oh, it isn't unusual for me to spend hours reading.  I love reading.  I'd do it all the time if things like eating, sleeping, working and eye strain didn't get in my way.  And in my mind, reading isn't a waste of time.  Except when, at the end of that time, what you just read was a waste.

I hate not finishing books.  What I read Saturday, I didn't finish.  16% in, I gave up.  The book was so poorly written, the characters so cardboard and without redemption, that I couldn't see throwing another minute of my life down that sewer. 

Now I do realize the book was free, so it's not like I spent good money.  The problem is, I spent my time.  And when I woke up the next day I was thoroughly irritated.  I'll never get that hour back.

SF author Larry Niven said it best: "The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He's entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you're in violation."

Maybe I deserved it because the book was free and you get what you pay for, right?  But I've downloaded numerous free books that were awesome.  Right now, my book budget is non-existent and I'm reading a lot of free stuff.  So far, I've only hit two duds.  And the first of those I did read all the way through.  This one?  I'd rather have gnawed off my own paw.

Still... :trying to find a positive here:... I did learn something from this.  I learned things I definitely need to remember in my own writing:

Writing should have a flow and a cohesiveness.  "The novel is not “a crazy quilt of bits”; it is a logical sequence of psychological events..." - Vladimir Nabokov.  If only the writer had read that quote and taken its wisdom to heart. 

Characters should have depth. "The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail." -  Mark Twain.  Little quirks do not make depth. Personal tragedy does not make for depth - not on its own.  A secret love does not make for depth.  All of these things have to be written such that the depth is woven in or I'm not doing to give a flying rat's patootie about the characters.  Or as Ernest Hemingway put it: "When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature."

And for godsakes, do your research.  RESEARCH.  The tall skinny guy on the ADDAMS Family (spelled always with two Ds) is LURCH not THING.  Her very accurate description of the character was totally undercut by her use of the wrong name.  And saying a guy looks like Thing - who was nothing more than a disembodied hand - is super confusing.  Don't use a pop reference if you're not familiar with it.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm pretty forgiving of little errors.  Typos, proofing mistakes, format errors - I can get past those if the story is good.  If the story's not good?  It's like being rolled across broken glass, dipped in honey and laid on an ant hill.  If you don't get up and walk away, all those little bites can be disastrous.

And now, for good measure, here's a few more quotes to help us writers remember what it is we do - and hold this to our hearts while we hold ourselves to a higher standard:

"The hope and aim of a word-handler is that he may communicate a thought or an impression to his reader without the reader’s realizing that he has been dragged through a series of hazardous or grotesque syntactical situations." - E.B. White

"Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books." - John Ruskin

"There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can't screw it up." Raymond Feist

So let's all get out there and make sure our brilliant and original ideas don't come across as screwed up.  None of our readers should have to feel they've wasted any amount of time on any of our books.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

To all the father's, step-fathers, and people who take the role of fathers in any kid's life:  I hope you have an awesome day today.  You've earned it.

And Happy Father's Day, Dad.  In my mind, you're spending your days fishing with your own Dad - just like you hoped you would before you passed on.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Awards and Junk

The most awesome JB Lynn has offered me up as a sacrifice... err, tribute... to the meme gods.  So here goes:

The Rules:
1. Post the logo(s) above
2. Accept the nomination and link back to the blog that nominated you
3. Answer the questions
4. List seven random facts about yourself
5. Nominate blogs and inform them of the nomination

Favorite Color: Hunter Green
Favorite Animal: Don't have a favorite.  I just love critters.
Favorite Number: One
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Coffee or Dew
Favorite Alcoholic Drink: When I still drank, my go-to drink was Tanqueray and tonic.
Facebook or Twitter: Facebook - but only because I keep forgetting about Twitter
My passions: Writing, Reading, My Husband
Giving or Receiving Gifts: I like both.
Favorite City: I don't do cities if I can help it.
Favorite TV shows: Bones, Alaska: The Wild Frontier, Biggest Loser, Life Below Zero

Seven Random Facts:

- I've only been out of the country once, to visit Canada.  (Even though I grew up an hour from Canada.)
- My hands are double jointed, so I can lay my palm on a flat surface and raise all my fingertips a couple inches.
- I've named the three little bucks who come to my yard "Small", "Medium" and "Large".
- British humor makes me LMAO.  My sister and I used to stay up late in the summer to watch Benny Hill, though, so I've been warped from an early age.
- I know all the words to American Pie by Don McLean.
- I love engineering type stuff, but I suck at math.
- Coming up with seven random facts is apparently too difficult for my brain first thing in the morning. ;o)

And now we come to Rule #5 - which I'm going to break.  That's right.  I'm a rule breaker.  Livin' on the ragged edge of danger.  Woohoo!  I'm so bad...  heh.  Anyway, if any of you wish to play along, feel free, but I'm not singling any of you out.  If you do play along, though, stop back by and let me know.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

General Malaise

I just notice I haven't posted here in almost a week.  Bleh.  I've really been falling down on the job.  Sorry.

I blame this general malaise that seems to have fallen over me with regards to anything writerly.  I could blame THAT on the fact that my writing doesn't seem to be going anywhere, which I could then blame on the fact that I feel like everything I write is crap right now, but that would only lead back to the general malaise.

I could blame this on the limbo I seem to be in over a Harper Voyager - who promised to have answers to us by a certain date and then pushed the date back and then seemed to drop off the face of the earth with regards to giving any kind of updates about anything.  (Their blog is quieter than mine... maybe the malaise has them, too.)

I could blame this on the query process that seems to have slipped into that old rejection rut.  I know the malaise has brought the queries I've sent out to a mere trickle.  And yeah, I know that I'll never get a 'yes' if I don't keep sending submissions out.  But the malaise has me going 'meh'.

It could be that my annual January-March malaise was rescheduled due to the fact that I was so busy with life stuff during that time.  "I'm sorry, but we overbooked and we need to push your regularly scheduled malaise back a few months."  Feh.

Whatever is causing this, I'm in the grips of it.  I know I need to pull myself up by my bootstraps.  I know I need to shake this off.  Once I shake it off, I'll see everything clearer - including the actual quality of my writing (which I suspect doesn't suck nearly as bad as I'm thinking right now).  But shaking it off is easier said than done. 

So, for now, I'm floating in a sea of meh. 

How about you?  Do you have a time when the malaise strikes you?  How do you get past it?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sleepy Braining Again

So, last night as I was trying to fall asleep, my brain was off doing its own wacky thing.  You know.  Sometimes you're just on the edge of sleep and a whole new book idea will pop into your head.  If you don't get up and write it down, it'll be gone.  (At least it will for me.)

Last night wasn't a book.  It was a whole complete idea for starting an epublishing company with my closest writer friends.  Raise your hand if you've read at least one book from a critique partner that you're shaking your head about why no one has snapped it up yet.  I could raise several.  So my sleepy brain decided it would do something about all that and my homeless books, too.

I wrote the letter inviting them to join in the idea.  I created marketing materials.  I knew exactly which books could go to print immediately and which other authors we could invite.  It would be a company designed for writers who have awesome books that no one else wants because they don't fit the mold somehow.  It would be a publishing house for those people who would turn to self publishing but are either afraid of going it alone or don't have the funds to get started.  It would be a publishing house for the already self-published who want a crew to back them up with editing and marketing, etc.

It's not like the people I was thinking of don't all have unique traits to bring into a business like that.  

Needless to say, I had a devil of a time falling asleep last night.  All the sleepy-braining going on.

But this morning the idea is still there and even though I told myself I was a whack-job last night, it's really not that far-fetched.  Is it?

Would you do something like that if the opportunity presented itself?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grammar Ninja in the Sticks

Based on various signs and printed matter I've seen around the area since I moved here, I'd like to remind everyone of a few things:

1) There's no A in cemetery.  (Seen twice so far spelled cemetary on the signs out front of the cemeteries in question)

2) There's only one R and two Fs in sheriff.  (Courtesy of the newspaper who has a weekly column called 'Sherrif's Sale'.)

3) "I before E except after C or when it sounds like an A as in neighbor and weigh." So the local organization did not recieve a grant.  (Also courtesy of the paper - but in an article this time.)

4) There's only one I in private.  (Seen on a sign across someone's driveway: PRIVITE. KEEP OUT.)

5) Resource only has one S.  (The paper again where an article had it spelled resourse.)

Sure, I'm not the most grammatically awesome person who ever lived - especially here on the internet where my internal editor keeps her mouth shut.  But I figure public signs and newspapers should hold themselves to a higher standard.  This stuff out here is conversational - that stuff isn't.

What's the funniest misspelling you've ever seen in public?  Do poorly spelled words in newspapers give you a case of either the giggles or the WTFs? 

*If you're in another country, some of the above may not hold true.  I'm going off U.S. spelling.